Friday, January 31, 2014

Is This Real Life?

I recently had a scare. One of those fun "Is this a cancer recurrence?" nightmares. It actually went on for awhile which I think is why I find myself now wanting to write and reflect a bit on what happened and how I am coming out on the other side.

It began in the beginning of December. Shortly after getting some further reconstruction work done to the foob I noticed some lumpy bits in my chest above the implant where I had previously had fat injected (to fill in the caved-in area due to the mastectomy). My plastic surgeon assured me that she felt the lumps were actually the fat doing what she called "pearling"... Since the caved in area seems to be back to being caved in again it appears the fat has been either absorbed into my body or it has formed lumps.


Not really.

One area was particularly hard/solid and I was convinced it was getting bigger. Shortly before Christmas I saw my general surgeon who agreed that double checking this lump with an ultra sound and possible biopsy would be smart.

Queue the anxiety.

Not only was I worried that this thing was cancer again... I was dealing with the fears at the same bloody time as I did the first time I was diagnosed 2 years ago. Another Holiday season spent in fear. Another New Year where I worried what the future would hold.

The part that drove me nuts was that due to the season I was told I might have to wait until February for my ultra sound/biopsy date. Luckily some strings were pulled and I was able to get in mid January. But holy hell was the wait excruciating.

Living in limbo has got to be one of the hardest things. On one hand my fact-checking mind was assuring me it wasn't cancer by pointing out the fat injecting procedure. The logic was clear and simple. It just wasn't cancer.

But then what if it was? My 'past experience' mind would check in: "Last time you had a lump it was cancer. Last time you had hope that it wasn't a tumour and it was. This time it could blindside you."

So there I was... for roughly 40 days... back and forth... "It can't be. But what if it is? It isn't cancer. But what if it really is?"

More ruminating worries: "Well, what kind of year are you facing? What will 2014 hold? Will I be going through treatment again? Will I need surgery? What if it's already spread? What if I am already living with metastatic disease and we just don't know it yet?"

The tormenting daily thoughts... the fears. The not knowing.

And then there was what I did know. I knew that if it was cancer that I would be facing things like chemo and surgery. I would feel sick to my stomach at the thought of the drugs and what they would do to my body and my mind. I knew that if I had to do it all over again that I would sincerely be considering turning down chemotherapy. The unknown of whether this was a tumour or not was scary... but what I did know scared me more. I now know what treatment does to me. I know what the process is now. I know what they would be looking for and why certain tests would be ordered and I know that it would bring up the most terrifying thoughts if I had to endure this again. To the point where I wondered if I could even handle hearing bad news.

I imagined myself fainting if I heard the C word again. I would want to be tranquilized, put to sleep until the bad dream was over. Only I know it wouldn't be over. I'd wake up and still have to go through it all. And I worried my mental state would not be able to handle this.

Shoot me and put me out of my misery. Drug me to the point of not feeling. I can't be in my own skin. If I could run from physical body, I would.

But I didn't have to...

While I lay on the bed in the cancer agency ultra sound room, drugged up on Ativan, Mike at my side, I held my breath as I looked at the screen which showed the black blob that was my lump. Maybe it was the Ativan, but I felt a deep knowing as I looked at it. I knew it was not cancer. Not long after that the tech confirmed that he didn't believe it looked bad and soon the radiologist came in to confirm whether a biopsy would be necessary. And it wasn't.

"Post-operative cystic debris" is what she called it. And when I told her fat had been injected there, she said this was likely what it was. "I've seen a lot of tumours here. And that is not a tumour."

Praise. The. Lord.

So yay. Good news. It's not cancer. It will be monitored in 4 months. And now I can breath a sigh of relief and chill. Until the next scan, exam, lump, persistent pain etc...

We know it doesn't end there.

Until then though I am discovering how different it feels to have gone from approximately 40 days of straight anxiety and panic to relief and not worrying. It is weird feeling to have sudden relief. A dark cloud dissipates. A weight lifted. And I continue on this wild ride and beautiful life. Whatever it may throw.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to believe they kept you waiting for forty days. I am so glad you had good results.